John James Burnet, a Glasgow architect, was the son of the architect John Burnet and nephew of the London architect William Burnet.
Burnet studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1874 to 1877. In 1878 he became a partner in his father's architectural firm, which became Burnet, Son and Campbell in 1886 following a further partnership with the firm's former apprentice John Archibald Campbell. In 1895 he travelled widely on the continent, studying museum design. The following year he visited the U.S.A. where he studied hospital and laboratory design, and began to experiment with a more functional style of building governed by the underlying steel framework. In 1903 he was commissioned to design the Edward VII Gallery at the British Museum. In 1905 he established an architectural practice in London with Thomas Tait and Francis Lorne.
Burnet was an active exhibitor showing in London at the Royal Academy, where in 1882 he exhibited his design for the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. He also exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. He was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1893, becoming a full member in 1914, the year in which he was knighted. In 1921 he became an associate of the Royal Academy, achieving full membership in 1925.
Burnet was among those Glasgow painters and architects who in 1891 appended their names to a list requesting that the Corporation of Glasgow buy JW's Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) (#12326).
Johnson, J. and A. Greutzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; McEwan, Peter J. M., Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Woodbridge, 1994; The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 2003).